Sleeping Pilot Overflies Island

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Australian authorities are investigating after a sleeping pilot overflew his destination by 30 miles before waking up and turning around. The Vortex Air Navajo was on an early morning flight from Devonport, Tasmania, to King Island, which is between Tasmania and the Australian mainland. The Navajo was on autopilot and assuming a direct track from Devenport would have made landfall again over southwestern Victoria depending on its fuel load. Vortex Air issued a statement saying the pilot “unintentionally fell asleep while in command of the aircraft” and that ATC was unable to raise him on the radio.

The 150-mile flight would have taken less than an hour and the plane left Devenport about 7:15 a.m. local time. Like most countries, Australia has rules on mandatory rest periods for pilots but the Australia Transportation Safety Board has not released any information beyond the fact that it occurred. The full report is expected in the first quarter of 2019.

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